Covid19 Plasma Therapy in India – India Ready for Clinical Trials
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India will soon begin clinical trials of a plasma treatment for critical COVID-19 patients.
The treatment involves people who have recovered from COVID-19 and whose bodies have generated the antibodies required to fight the virus, the plasma from these people will be injected into critically-ill patients.
As there is still no tried and tested anti-viral vaccine or drug against COVID-19, this is an important development.
The plasma in the therapy
The therapy is known as convalescent plasma therapy and the principle of this therapy is that the recovery of a sick patient can be helped by the antibodies of a recovered person. The yellowish liquid part of the blood, the plasma, is where the antibodies are present.
The selected donors will be the people who have recovered from the infection and show no sign of the infection for 2-3 weeks since then.
The director of the Indian Institute of Epidemiology, Manoj Murhekar at the daily press conference held by the health ministry said that the trial will begin after final approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) andnow ICMR is in the process of finalizing the protocol for the clinical trial.
He said that ICMR has already given the approval to begin the trial in Kerala. DCGI’s approval will be needed for other centers that want to try the therapy.
Kerala looks to build plasma bank
The approval allows the state to begin the process of collecting plasma from patients who have recovered, said a member of Kerala’s expert committee.
Dr. Anoop Kumar, an intensivist of Baby Memorial Hospital in Kozhikode is leading the convalescent plasma project in Kerala. A physician providing special care for critically ill patients is certified as an intensivist.
Dr. Kumar had previously worked on the Nipah virus outbreak and is part of the state’s expert group. For identifying possible donors, criteria for the levels of antibodies, etc., a team of experts are been put together by Dr. Kumar and they are in the process of finalizing the procedure.
The expert committee member said, “The current effort is to begin the process of drawing and to store the plasma from donors to keep it ready when the time comes, and not to transfuse the plasma in patients now.”
Other epidemics such as MERS, SARS, and H1N1 were tackled successfully by employing plasma therapy. In cases of mumps and measles also, this was used.
Initial Covid-19 trials have been promising. In one such trial, one dose of 200 ml of convalescent plasma was transfused to ten critically-ill patients from Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the outbreak. With no side-effects, the levels of coronavirus in the blood disappeared in seven days and the patients showed improvement in clinical symptoms in three days.
For severe Covid-19 patients, the researchers called convalescent plasma therapy a “promising rescue option” but there is the need for large randomized control trials.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration approved the therapy for critically-ill patients who had no other treatment option as an experimental treatment.
To investigate the use of convalescent plasma therapy, the National Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma Project has been formed by 57 institutions in 46 states in the US.
Covid19 Plasma Therapy in India
Won’t those antibodies (glycoproteins) themselves trigger immunogenecity in human body?
They are from recovered patients, it is just like blood transfusion, the only difference is here they are separating the plasma, which just contains protective antibodies.
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